Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 1, Keywords & Tags

Welcome back to Joan's Golden Rules for Ebook Success.

It's been less than 4 months since my first ebook Just One Look went live.

I've now sold more than 80,000 copies of that book and my other 3 romantic comedies:

Still The One

JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES

The Trouble With Love
(Soon to have a new cover when I publish Romeo and Judy Anne, Book 2 of Texas One Night Stands.)

Why I'm Sharing

I'm sharing what I know--first and foremost, because that's just me. Secondly, because I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer. I'm passing on what I have learned as well as how I have put that knowledge to work for me. I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success.

I hope this will help shortcut the process for you. I hope you can achieve your own brand of success and have fun doing it.

Previously Published

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 3

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 4

Ebook Success: Working With Cover Artists (addendum published the next day)

As a reminder, here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

Joan's Golden Rules

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Write Professional Ad Copy

I fear I'll have to break this into parts because I'm short of time. As Dean Wesley Smith reminded me this morning: "Writing is my #1 priority." That hasn't been the case lately with planning a wedding and about a hundred other issues that are sucking away my time and creative energy.

Enough already! Right? Let's get to it.

What's ad copy? I'm not a professional marketer, but I've written a lot of ad copy for clients. I look at ad copy as an author's opportunity to use words to attract readers to his or her book. I'm talking about only the words that an author can control.

Let's Break It Down

Regardless of the digital publishing platform you use, they all contain the same "word" opportunities. I break Ad Copy into these categories:

1. Keywords or Tags

2. Categories

3. Author's Bio

4. Product Description

Keywords or Tags

If you want to know more about the importance of keywords or tags, read the guest blog my friend and Google guru Jason Matthews posted on SlingWords on the subject. You'll learn a lot if you get his book Get On Google Front Page.

Quoting Jason's Product Description for his book:

"What exactly is SEO? ... It's the factors utilized by a website or blog that help the search engines find them and see their relevance to the subject of search. Some are out of your control.... Most of the factors are in your control, like keywords, meta descriptions and tags, categories/labels, titles, link-building...."

When someone searches Amazon, they're using a Search Engine. If you have tagged your book in a way that makes it accessible to readers who would like your kind of book, then they'll find you. However, the more a book has had readers click "Agree With These Tags," the higher in the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) your book will be listed.

What You Control

Those with few agreed tags won't fare as well in the SERP as those with many. Unfortunately, this isn't something you can control because you can only click your own tags once. Those pesky tracking cookies keep you from clicking like a crazed research experiment monkey seeking some kibble.

Keywords and tags were removed in late May because there were so many organized tagging groups that it defeated the purpose of impartial tagging by readers and skewed their algorithm.

Your friends and family can tag for you if they are also readers of your work. Let your conscience be your guide, and be forewarned that there can be consequences. If Amazon thinks you're trying to work the system, they can stomp you faster and flatter than an armadillo crossing a Texas highway at night.

Choose Wisely

What you control is the assignment of initial tags. Amazon lets you assign 7 tags when you're listing the book with KDP. Once the book page is live, you can add 8 more.

Though 15 is supposed to be the maximum, drive-by tagging by readers will up that number of tags when they add something different, and that's okay. That's desirable. They can also agree with the tags they see listed, or they can disagree.

Other platforms have different parameters. Know what they are before you start. In fact, before you ever sit down to upload your ebook file, have a list of the tags or keywords you'll use. Write them out.

Don't Waste Tags

Let me repeat--choose wisely. I've done a lot of analysis of other authors' book pages. I'm still surprised by how many who use tags that are redundant which means they've wasted that tag.

You want tags that explicitly describe your book, and you definitely want a tag indicating genre. You don't want to tag a book as "Kindle book." If someone is shopping in the Kindle Shop, they won't put that into Amazon's search engine.

All About Focus

If you have a choice between contemporary romance and novel, contemporary romance is the tag you should use. Start with genre specific and narrow your focus. Think about a bookstore. If you go into a bookstore, where do you go first? If you're a mystery reader, you head there. Do you start with the first book and scan all the shelves? No. You then look for police procedural or cozy or amateur sleuth or whatever.

When you create your tags, pretend you're a bookstore owner trying to stock inventory.

Monitor Your Tags

Once your tags are in place, you must monitor them. Why? Because there are some really vicious people who frequent the Amazon book pages. If you've ever angered someone, you run the risk of having them vent their ire on your book page.

I've been immersed in ebook culture for only a few months yet in that time, I've found 3 authors I know who were victims of vandalism on their book pages, and I've heard of entire groups of publisher-sponsored ebook authors who've been subjected to this.

What happens is that these people who don't like you add Keywords to your book pages that will put you on the hit list of readers. One woman who wasn't selling despite a good product emailed me and asked me to tell her why I was doing so well, and she couldn't sell more than a copy or two. I visited her book page.

First, I scrolled all the way down and looked at her tags. Oh, my gosh! She only had 2 tags. The first one was SPAM, and the second one was SPAMMER. Who's going to buy a book from someone labeled that way? Obviously no one since her sales were languishing.

I notified her immediately. She was aghast. She remembered going to a Kindle forum and talking about her book, not even in a BSP way. Someone snarked at her so she withdrew. That snarker could have been the one who tagged her book, or it could have been someone else who was jealous of her print success or whatever.

The other case was similar. The author of Christian fiction had posted in a Christian forum. Someone took exception to what she said and visited her book page and left a really nasty calling card.

Know This

If you're going to publish ebooks, it's even more of a glass house than print publishing. Edna St. Vincent Millay once said, paraphrasing, "Anyone who publishes a book willfully appears in public with his pants down."

There are people out there who just love to tear down others. If you don't believe me, just read some of the reviews on a book page. The more popular a book; often, the worse the reviews. Some aren't content to leave nasty reviews. They may attack your book page.

Get in the habit of checking your book page tags to make sure they haven't had the digital equivalent of stinky brown-stuff smeared all over them.

If you find something like that, notify KDP customer service to see if you can have it removed. Chances are they won't. So enlist the help of readers who like your work to go to the bad tags and follow whatever process indicates they do not agree with the tag. Normally, that's to remove the check mark next to the tag.

Read more about Amazon Tags to find out crucial information as well as your rights.

Harry Truman said: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Just know that there will be heat. Make your peace with that now. Start thickening your skin. Remove your feelings from the end of your elbow. Most important, develop a mindset and a plan to deal with it. And check those tags frequently!

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.

Note: If SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider making a donation by clicking the button below, or perhaps subscribe to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords, only $.99/month. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.


  1. Fantastic article, Joan! Thank you for sharing.

    Cindy Wicklund

  2. Cynthia Wicklund...

    Thanks, Cynthia! I'm anxiously awaiting your new Garden book. This one's Garden of Deceit, right?

    Best wishes,

  3. It is, indeed. Thank you, Joan!

    Cindy Wicklund

  4. Congratulations, Joan, on 80,000 copies sold. Eight thousand sounds good to me! (I guess the word "copies" in that context might be going obsolete!) Thanks for a most enlightening post. I think my head is swimming. Now I've got to go and buy another of Matthew's books. . .

  5. Cheryl, we all learn from each other, don't we? Guess that's Friend Power?

    Best always,

  6. Jes, thank you and thanks for visiting.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves